1. Home

Tips from Painters on Overcoming a Creative Block

Suffering from a creative block? These tips should help.


It's not unusual for an artist, whether an amateur or a professional, to have ups and downs in their creativity. Suffering from a creative drought, or artist's block, does not mean you're losing your artistic ability. You're just going through a temporary slump, that you will overcome, as the discussions on the Painting Forum testify. The following tips were all posted on the forum, which is a great place to get support when you are in a slump.

  • "I have been an illustrator for over 30 years and I still have creative slumps, but every time I have had a slump I have come out of it a better painter." -- RPBaker
  • "I have just gone through a real painting drought and have just started again. I now know that it's not unusual, which is a relief. I thought I was losing my artistic ability."-- Kuranui.
  • "Try to remember that its just a painting and nothing more. The world will not end if your painting comes out badly. Remember that failure is just a part of learning." -- RPBaker
  • "Put the brush in your mind and paint the strokes in you head before you ever touch the canvas. You will be amazed at the difference this will make." -- Gary O.
  • "Try starting with something small. I force myself to just start an easy part and as soon as I do, I'm going strong." -- Susan
  • "Try painting with a group or go to a two- or three-day workshop. It really works to get me going again." -- Judyfree3
  • "I've found the best way to get myself going again is to take a painting class. It doesn't matter if it's even a very basic one, it activates the painting gene and makes you paint at the very least at each class until the course is over." -- Helen
  • "When this happens to me, I put my brushes down and do something entirely different for a while. I find walking with my dogs for miles has always helped. Perhaps not on the first day and sometimes not for a while. I find of a sudden I start to appreciate everything that is around me again, i.e. bird song, trees and the noise they make in the wind, sunrises, sunsets, the pattern made by the wind on water, reflections.The need to try to capture this in a painting comes back again, slowly sometimes, but it does come back." -- Anna
  • "Take your sketch pad outside or someplace that you love and just sketch for 30 minutes. Let your spirit take you where you are happiest. Sketch something different daily, you will overcome your fears about your talent and your art might take off in a different direction then you ever imagined." --Jeninechris1
  • "Pick something simple, whatever your favorite subject matter is, but keep it simple and the painting small. A flower, a tree, your favorite vase, maybe something whimsical a stuffed toy, a knick-knack, or copy the work of someone you like. Copy it as exact as you can. Copying as a form of learning in the academic arts has been around for centuries. It was and still is a great tool for learning. If Van Gogh and Sargent can do it, so can you. It is like having a teacher there with you. Copy it till you get it the way you want it." -- Gary O.
  • "Visit galleries and view paintings that appeal to you. Stay away from paintings that don't touch your soul." -- Fairygold
  • "Clean up your studio. Or just simply stay in your studio and try to feel the energy in there." -- Fairygold
  • "Invite somone over and pick a theme and paint together, the love will come back." -- Jularts
  • "I get outside to walk, spend time with nature, take photos to see my world in a different light; view other artist's artwork, play music, go to the art museum, and eventually I get back to painting. I carry my art supplies in a tote-bag, so wherever the inspiration strikes, inside or out and downtown, I'm ready too paint or sketch." -- CCCorman
  • "The biggest piece of advice I can give you is, paint anyway! You may feel fearful, as though you've lost your capabilities... but paint anyway! You will be suprised with yourself... and that you really haven't lost your talent. Don't give in to your fear. Fear is what destroys us. It keeps us from being ourselves, and puts limits on what we are capable of." -- Eclecticperspective
  • "Find someone who you can relate to concerning painting or sketching and talk to them. Try painting a simple scene and then bring it over to them and ask their opinion. As all artists know, 'An artist's worst critic is themselves.' Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement to get that urge back. And no matter what you think, everything that you have learned over the years concerning painting is still there." -- Littleladyaust
  • "Pick up a book and read about a fantasy story. I have gotten a lot of good ideas from there. Writers tend to have a good grasp when it comes to giving to details about a scene or something similiar. Use that detail to put things where you want them to go." -- Littleladyaust

Read More Tips for Overcoming a Creative Block...

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.